The number of migrants detained on the U.S.-Mexico border increased for the first time in nine months, suggesting that President Donald Trump’s deterrent measures may be stalling, the Washington Post reports. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said 37,119 unauthorized border crossers were taken into custody in February, up from 36,660 in January. While the number of migrants arriving in family groups continues to decline, the number of single adult migrants from Mexico and unaccompanied children rose last month. Trump has campaigned for reelection on his border record. While the February numbers do not represent a major increase, the president could have a difficult time pointing to the enforcement statistics as a success if an upward trend emerges.
Mexico’s homicide rate remains near peak levels, its economy is not growing, and a slowdown in global manufacturing triggered by the coronavirus spread could create new emigration pressures. Acting CBP chief Mark Morgan praised Trump’s border policies Thursday and presented a chart titled “Alien Removals Exceed Arrivals” that he said was evidence of the administration’s success. Instead of using the monthly arrest figures as a gauge for migration trends, as Trump officials have done for three years, Morgan said the new metric shows the administration continues to deport or turn back more immigrants than the number being detained. Though the raw numbers show an increase in unauthorized migration, Morgan said the agency’s new calculations demonstrate “what I call the end of catch-and-release.” While the number of migrants taken into custody last month was fewer than half the February 2019 total, it was significantly higher than the 23,557 arrests in February 2017, the president’s first full month in office.